MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Review & Ratings
- 17 February 2018
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
WELL, YES. AND quite a good one as well. But first let’s define terms. If your idea of a touring bike is a Honda Goldwing, a BMW K1600GT or even an R1200RT, then this isn’t really a touring bike. If it wasn’t for the optional panniers, you wouldn’t mistake it for a tourer at all – at first glance it’s a supermoto-style take on MV’s existing Dragster/Rivale/Brutale package. In fact, it’s a bit more than that. The chassis is new, taller and with more relaxed geometry, and the running gear shares few parts with MV’s nakeds. The 798cc three-cylinder engine is basically the same, although a revised exhaust and intake, plus a reworking of the ride-by-wire engine management system, give a very different feel. The torque curve is largely flat (in a good way) giving most of the available power over a wide rev range. The suspension’s softer than other MVs, the riding position is more upright, and though the bodywork is minimalist it offers reasonable weather protection, while the screen has a neat and easy manual adjuster.
The panniers are a decent size at 30 litres per side, and they’re narrower than the width of the handlebars for safer filtering (didn’t stop me clouting one on a traffic cone though). They also feature a very neat mounting system: lugs on each pannier slot into two small aluminium lozenges on the rear subframe casting, and they’re retained by a quick-release clip on to the rear footrest hangers.
That allows for removal in seconds, and once removed there are no ugly brackets or rails visible. The closure system for the lids isn’t so clever – it’s fiddly to get them shut. So far, so good. It’s not the sort of bike you’d load up with spouse, a fortnight’s luggage and the kitchen sink for a camping holiday two time zones away – instead, think solo weekend of Alpine passes or an exotic trackday. At heart it’s a bike you can tour on, rather than a touring bike.
For me that’s no bad thing – I’m still more attracted to the idea of a bike that’s built for fun, and then has practicality added, rather than the other way round. And this is definitely fun. Our test ride was mostly twisty, hilly roads where the MV’s nimble yet stable handling, soft but controlled suspension, excellent supersport brakes and growly, willing power delivery were always likely to shine. There’s great feel from the front end (despite a slightly odd tyre choice, of which more later), which gives you the confidence to run deep into turns before slinging it over and powering out hard enough to get a little bit of air under the front tyre. Snick through the gearbox with the excellent quickshifter and go hunting for the next bend, then snick down, again using the quickshifter, not the clutch, and do it all again. That’s the Veloce part of the name covered (it means “fast” in Italian).
The Turismo part is harder to evaluate when you’re never flying straight and level for more than half a mile at a time. Some riders complained of annoying tingly vibes through the bars, which I suspect might be worse at sustained motorway speeds. The upright riding position works for me, but I’m not sure the seat’s going to be all-day comfy – the ones we used had a hard lip of plastic which dug into my thighs. MV say this is already being changed for production bikes. Another thing in line for modification is the dash. It’s a full-colour video-style display, a bit like a tablet screen, and capable of displaying a huge amount of data. Trouble is it displays it all at once and it’s hard to pick out the info you need. MV are planning to add a couple of strippeddown options to make it more userfriendly. Otherwise the controls are well thought-out, and there are nice touches such as the two power sockets for rider and pillion, along with a double USB charging point on the top yoke. There’s also a built-in Bluetooth hub so you can connect your phone, GPS, intercom or whatever with no hassle. You can change riding modes (Rain, Touring, Normal and a user-set Custom mode) on the fly, and set the traction control (or turn it off). The cruise control is a model of simplicity too – though I don’t know why it only works in top gear.
I’m not sure why MV chose off-roadstyle Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres either. They have stiff sidewalls and quite a heavy construction, which I’m sure contributes to the feeling that the front end is a bit too stiff over small bumps. I’m sure some pure road tyres – Dunlop RoadSmart 2s or Michelin Pilot Road 4s – would suit it a lot better. I’m also a bit unsure about who it’s really for, especially in the UK. MV are talking it up as an alternative to Ducati’s Multistrada and even BMW’s R1200GS, but anyone with their eyes on a full-bore 1200 isn’t really going to be tempted by a mere 800cc.
And in the 800cc-ish category you’re looking at the likes of various BMW parallel twins and, perhaps the MV’s closest direct competitor, the Triumph Tiger. The MV outguns them all on style, power, gadgets and twisty-road handling, but it’s more limited as a long-distance tourer. It’s going to cost a hell of a lot more, too. The UK price for the Turismo Veloce is £11,899 – that’s virtually the same as a base model R1200GS. Personally I’d choose this bike, but I doubt that most potential GS buyers would agree.